Fed Appeals Court: Unconstitutional For Feds To Prohibit 18-Year-Olds From Buying Firearms

P. Gardner Goldsmith | July 18, 2021
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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit July 13 ruled in favor of plaintiffs arguing that the Second Amendment applies to residents of America who are 18 years old, not 21 years old and over, as numerous federal gun-banners and the ATF claim.

The issue has perplexed many who are able to read the Second Amendment, those who understand the deeper foundation of innate rights that exist regardless of government, and those who recognize the inconsistency of politicians who claim the power to draft into military servitude men who are 18 or over, or politicians who want people 18 and over to vote for them, even as the politicians crush their right to self-defense.

It has also seen members of gun-grab groups working hard to keep the immoral and useless bans in place.

Under 21 at the time of the original filing, plaintiffs Tanner Hirschfeld and Natalia Marshall challenged the constitutionality of federal gun laws that prevent them from buying firearms. As Brian Doherty reports for Reason, those federal statutes hit the books in 1968:

Hirschfeld is now over 21 but Marshall is not. She felt she had convincing reasons to be able to legally buy a gun from a licensed dealer, including an active protective order against an abusive ex who had himself been arrested for unlawful possession of a gun. Her job as a horse trainer also has her often in faraway rural areas dealing with strangers. She wants, and thinks she should be able to easily and legally get from a licensed dealer, a handgun for her protection.

A lower court found against Hirschfeld and Marshall, and so they kept fighting, taking on the formidable legal muscle and financial resources of the infamous Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Michael Bloomberg’s well-heeled Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence -- all of which filed amici curiae for the suppression of rights.

And, for now, Hirschfeld, Marshall, and Natural Rights have won.

The three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit, in a 2-1 decision written by Judge Julius N. Richardson, saw no particular reason why that age group of adults should lack the same Second Amendment rights possessed by those aged 21 and over. ‘Our nation's most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18,’ the ruling said. ‘And the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms is no different.’ Individuals over the age of 18 ‘enjoy almost every other constitutional right, and they were required at the time of the Founding to serve in the militia and furnish their own weapons.’

Which brings up some valuable points.

Historically, males as young as thirteen could fight with the various militias of the United States.

Historically – and contrary to Joe Biden’s asinine claims about early American “gun limits” – many private citizens owned cannons, cannons smithed by Paul Revere.

As Guns.com’s Chris Eger writes:

Going back to 1638, the founding date of what is today The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts– to this day a privately recruited military unit– local communities took it upon themselves to charter units of cannoneers.

The April 19,1775 British attack on Concord came, in part, because British General Gage had gotten intel saying that numerous private CANNONS were stored there.

But those are side points. The crux of the ruling is about the ATF and federal politicians banning people like Hirschfeld and Marshall from legally purchasing guns, and two of the three appellate court judges found in favor of the plaintiffs, overturning the lower court ruling.

Related: Politicians in Hawaii Call for REPEAL of Second Amendment

This did not sit well with the lone dissenter, an Obama appointee named James A Wynn, Jr., who said, in part, that the Second Amendment “is singularly capable of causing harm.”

Which is absurd, manifestly contrary to fundamental human ethics, and reflects a dark assumption. 

Wynn’s statement hints that, though he believes the personal possession of firearms leads to more violent crime (statistics indicate just the opposite), he assumes that government enforcement of gun “bans” – enforcement that uses guns to threaten citizens – is not only constitutional, but beneficial and morally just.

Writing for The Free Thought Project, Matt Agorist noticed the same inconsistency, and observed that there were even more inconsistent positions among the gun-grabbers trying to smash these plaintiffs:

Wynn is backed by gun control advocates who point out that 18-to-20-year-olds commit gun homicides at a rate four times higher than adults 21 and older do. It is rather irresponsible, however, that they would use these statistics to advocate gun control given that 18-to-20-year-olds cannot legally buy a handgun — therefore proving that the law doesn’t work.

Precisely. The whole point of the suit was that the feds prohibit 18-to-21-year-olds from legally owning guns, yet that stat indicates that the prohibitions are, somehow, NOT stopping criminally-minded people in that age group from obtaining guns.

How odd. Criminally-minded people don’t care about the statutes.

But all of this is beside the most fundamental point, the irrefutable fact that human beings have rights to life and to self-defense with arms.

As Doherty’s Reason piece hints, alarm bells should sound when one reads in the new ruling references to “constitutional rights.” 

When do constitutional rights vest? At 18 or 21? 16 or 25? Why not 13 or 33? In the law, a line must sometimes be drawn. But there must be a reason why constitutional rights cannot be enjoyed until a certain age. Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18. And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is no different. 

Rights preexist the Constitution. They preexist government. That’s why they’re rights. They apply to all humans, and the Second Amendment makes no exceptions specifically because there are no exceptions to rights.

That means there are no arbitrary lines as to what age groups the US or states can begin applying “gun restrictions” because not only are the US government and states not vested with any power to use armed agents to try to arrest peaceful people who possess arms, the governments are strictly PROHIBITED from creating “gun restrictions” regardless of the age on whom the politicians want to place them.

For now, this is a victory, but it reveals the fundamental problem of government.

One’s rights always are subject to the government ruling on one’s rights.

Which means that government really doesn’t respect the fundamental hands-off nature of rights, and we must always fight its attacks.